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MEDECINS DU MONDE (MDM) Printer Friendly Page

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By NGO Monitor
October 7, 2008

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April 10, 2008

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Report Denouncing Security Barrier Not Credible
By NGO Monitor
February 14, 2005


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  • Paris-based NGO that recently produced a highly politicized report condemning Israel

Established in 1980, Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) defines itself as an “international humanitarian aid organization that recruits medical and non-medical volunteers who provide healthcare for vulnerable populations around the world.” Medecins du Monde’s objectives are: (a) "to look after, everywhere in the world, the populations most vulnerable in situations of crisis, war, natural disaster and exclusion … without distinction [along] ethnic, social, religious or political [lines]"; (b) "to help … local speakers to innovate, develop and set up health services"; and (c) "to testify [regarding] the obstacles to … access to [healthcare] … [and] the infringements of … human rights." "There are no right or wrong victims," reads the organization’s motto.

The founders of Medecins du Monde were 15 French doctors who, in November 1978 (three years after the fall of Saigon) went to the aid of a shipwrecked cargo liner carrying 2,564 Vietnamese “boat people” suffering from hunger and disease. When the doctors returned to France after their humanitarian mission, they set up Medecins Sans Fronteres (Doctors Without Borders), of which Medecins du Monde was an outgrowth.

Through most of its history, Medecins du Monde has enjoyed a reputation as a legitimate human rights organization without a political agenda. In recent times, however, it has joined forces with the highly politicized Physicians for Human Rights - Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society to launch a public-relations campaign against Israel's security barrier. On February 14, 2005, for instance, these three organizations held a joint press conference in Tel Aviv -- timed to coincide with the publication of Medecins du Monde's report "The Ultimate Barrier: Impact of the Wall on the Palestinian health care system" -- to present their common position.  Their statement questioned the legitimacy of Israel's reasons for constructing the security barrier, and failed to acknowledge the evidence that the security barrier had reduced terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.

Under a section titled "Context," the Medecins du Monde report offers a one-sided Palestinian narrative. For example, without any explanation as to the reasons why, the report claims that "the Wall deprives Palestinians of adequate access to basic services such as water and education, as well as sources of income such as agriculture and other forms of employment. The Wall has steadily added another layer of obstacles isolating, fragmenting and therefore weakening the already fragile Palestinian healthcare system." The report continues its one-sided presentation by citing 83 anonymous "testimonies in the field" whose authenticity cannot be verified. It also quotes such blatantly anti-Israel organizations as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (PENGON).

Medecins du Monde operates on an annual budget of approximately 50 million Euros, of which almost 60 percent comes from private donations and 40 percent from public sources of financing. The organization receives financial support from the Baxter International Foundation.

Much of this profile is adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.



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